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May 2016 Column - Deficits in Four Year Plan should not be closed with tax increase


OFFICE HIGHLIGHTS

The Citizens Salary Review Commission recommended salary increases for the county executive, comptroller and sheriff
Human trafficking prevention and awareness month draws attention to the prevalence of human trafficking and urges people to spot the warning signs
Legislator Rath delivered donuts and certificates to the Amherst Police Department and New York State Police in Clarence
The budget process ensured these outstanding organizations are offered funding from Erie County
Updates on Clarence and Amherst road and infrastructure, and anti-bullying efforts

oneilj - Posted on 05 May 2017

The County Executive’s 2017-2020 Revised Erie County Four Year Financial Plan has our Legislature Majority Caucus questioning its financial decision-making ideas. Based on this proposed plan, submitted in mid-April, we are heading toward a deficit in each year. As such I suggest the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority (ECFSA) reject this incomplete plan. Furthermore, and most importantly, any changes cannot include a tax increase for residents.

Earlier this week, in response to the County Executive's planning, the Majority Caucus submitted a letter to the ECFSA stating that we will not support any tax increase. Instead, the administration and Legislature need to find ways to reduce spending. We cannot ask taxpayers to pay more for the County Executive's spending plan, which he promised the county could afford every step of the way.

Here is how the spending plan breaks down. It projects budget gaps every year going forward. Furthermore, there are no realistic solutions proposed for how to deal with those shortfalls. The solutions proposed are crossing our fingers and hoping that spending and revenues outside our control fall in our favor. The County Executive’s proposed deficit spending plan is a serious concern that we must address now. 

The Majority Caucus’ written response urges the board of directors to not only reject the plan, but also forces the County Executive to address the fiscal deficit issues within it. As it stands now the County Executive’s plan sets up Erie County to fall into a significant financial hole. Furthermore, this proposal continues to ignore the issues raised by the ECFSA back in October 2016 when the board stated that it was uncertain if the County Executive spending approach was balanced or reasonable. 

I cannot support a tax increase. The County Executive needs to get back to the books and find a solution that doesn't hurt the businesses and residents of Erie County. We all know families face a lot of tough decisions, finding a way to pay for higher County taxes to balance the county's budget shouldn't be one. That is our job. 

We are ready to work with the administration to eliminate budget gaps without raising taxes. 

I also wanted to inform residents that the Hazardous Waste Collection Dates were just announced. The Erie County Department of Environment & Planning, in cooperation with Erie Community College and the Northwest and Northeast Southtowns (“NEST”) Solid Waste Management Boards will hold two events: from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 3 at the ECC South Campus (enter from Big Tree Road/Route 20A) in Orchard Park and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, August 5 at the ECC North Campus (enter from Wehrle Drive) in Williamsville.

Accepted items include, pesticides, fertilizers, pool and household chemicals/cleaners (limit 2 gallons or 20 pounds); oil-based paints, spray cans (limit 10 gallons); paint thinner, stripper and solvents (limit 2 gallons); batteries (lead acid & rechargeable); oil, gasoline, kerosene, antifreeze (limit 10 gallons); and mercury (thermometers, thermostats, metal). For additional information, please visit www.erie.gov/waste.